Attention Android Users: This Free VPN App Leaked the Data of 21 Million Users
To live our digital lives to the fullest, we rely on a variety of technologies to support our online activities. And while some apps and devices are meant to make certain tasks more convenient or provide us with greater security, others simply offer a false sense of security and could potentially lead to online misfortune. One such platform is SuperVPN. While users may applaud themselves for using a VPN to protect their privacy, this Android app is unfortunately spilling their secrets without their knowledge.
Let’s unpack how SuperVPN works and its recent involvement in a data breach.
SuperVPN or Super Villain?
VPNs (virtual private networks) are intended to create a secure tunnel between your device and the internet, offering you privacy and freedom from IP-based tracking. It protects your identity and financial information by encrypting, or scrambling, the data that flows through the tunnel, and can mask your true location, making it appear as though you are connecting from somewhere else. VPN apps have become much more popular in recent years as our awareness around privacy and security has grown. But, such is the case with all apps, it’s important to do your research before you select one to install on your phone.
According to Forbes, critical security warnings around the app SuperVPN surfaced last year. They reported research stating that 105 million people might have had their credit card details stolen, and that hackers could intercept messages between the user and provider. As of last Friday, someone leaked three databases on a popular hacking forum that purportedly contained user credentials and device data stolen from three different Android VPN services: SuperVPN, considered one of the most dangerous VPNs on Google Play with 100 million installs, GeckoVPN (10 million installs), and ChatVPN (50,000 installs). This breach exposed the data of 21 million users, including names, email addresses, usernames, payment data, device information, and even location data logs — a major red flag for a VPN.
You Can’t Put a Price on Data Protection
Although a free VPN might seem like an ideal solution at first, there are multiple consequences that could potentially put your online safety in jeopardy. Since free VPNs are not making money directly from their users, many make revenue indirectly, through advertising. This means that not only will you be bombarded with ads, but you’re also exposed to tracking and malware. In fact, one study of 283 free VPN providers found that 72% included trackers. Beyond the frustration of ads, slowness, and upgrade prompts is the fact that some free VPN tools include malware that can put your sensitive information at risk. The same study found that 38% of the free VPN applications in the Google Play Store were found to have malware and some even stole the data off of users’ devices, similar to SuperVPN.
If you choose a verified, paid VPN service, however, you’ll enjoy a plethora of benefits including unlimited bandwidth, speedy performance, protection across multiple devices, and much more. Aside from choosing a premium VPN service, following these tips will help you stay secure against SuperVPN and others like it and protect your daily online communications:
1. If you have SuperVPN, uninstall it
Delete SuperVPN from your device as soon as possible. There are at least six other apps like SuperVPN, with identical descriptions and logos from different creators on Google Play Store. Steer clear of downloading these apps altogether to avoid any cyber misfortune.
2. Do your research
While some malicious apps do make it through the app store screening process, most attack downloads appear to stem from social media, fake ads, and other unofficial app sources. Before downloading an app to your device, do some quick research about the origin and developer.
3. Read app reviews with a critical eye
Reviews and rankings are still a suitable method of determining whether an app is legitimate. However, watch out for assessments that reuse repetitive or straightforward phrases, as this could be a sign of a fraudulent review.
4. Place a fraud alert
If you suspect that your data might have been compromised, place a fraud alert on your credit. This not only ensures that any new or recent requests undergo scrutiny, but also allows you to have extra copies of your credit report so you can check for suspicious activity.
5. Upgrade to holistic security for your peace of mind
A comprehensive security suite like McAfee Total Protection includes our McAfee® Safe Connect standalone VPN with auto-renewal and takes the worry out of connecting, so you can focus on what’s important to you.
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